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Works of Radical Imagination

Ianne Fields Stewart: “Today Is the Last Day of Trans Oppression”

March 16

by Seven Stories Press

With the forthcoming publication of Voices of a People’s History of the United States in the 21st Century, a new collection edited by Anthony Arnove and Haley Pessin, we are proud to share a series of excerpts from the book, which will be published individually each week on the Seven Stories blog until the book's release.

In this excerpt, adapted from a speech addressed to the 15,000 marchers at the 2020 Brooklyn March for Black Trans Lives, Okra Project Founder Ianne Fields Stewart explores what it would mean to truly eradicate transphobia, to "bring that violence into the light and crush it beneath our feet."

A new companion to the classic collection edited by Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove, Voices of a People’s History of the United States in the 21st Century brings together more than 100 activist texts on social and economic justice that have shaped the last 22 years. The editors, Arnove and Pessin, offer a curated collection of voices of hope and resistance from Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, the struggle for Indigenous liberation, activist groups for immigrant rights, environmentalist movements, disability justice organizing, and frontline workers during the global pandemic who spoke out against the life-threatening conditions of their labor.

Included in this new book are writings by Angela Y. Davis, Nick Estes, Colin Kaepernick, Rebecca Solnit, Christian Smalls, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Howard Zinn, Rev. William Barber, Bree Newsome, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Tarana J. Burke, Dream Defenders, Sins Invalid, Mariame Kaba, Naomi Klein, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Linda Sarsour, Chelsea E. Manning, Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald, Julian Brave NoiseCat, H. Melt, and others. Together, their words remind us that history is made not only by the rich and powerful, but by ordinary people taking collective action.


Ianne Fields Stewart is a Black transfeminine actor, storyteller, and activist and is the founder of The Okra Project, which works to address food insecurity in Black transgender communities. Stewart gave the following speech before a crowd of fifteen thousand people at the 2020 Brooklyn March for Black Trans Lives, the largest such gathering to date.

 

IANNE FIELDS STEWART, "TODAY IS THE LAST DAY OF TRANS OPPRESSION" (June 14, 2020)

 

Good afternoon. My name is Ianne Fields Stewart. I use they/them/she/her pronouns.

Today I call upon each and every one of you to make a commitment. Today I urge you to commit, that today is the very last day that transphobia will claim the lives, loves, and joys of Black trans people!

For too long, Black trans people have fought for our humanity, and for too long, cis people have been acting like they don’t know what the fuck we talking about.

So today is the last day that a Black trans woman fears for her life, when she names and claims herself, in front of a man, whose hatred of himself is stronger than his love for her.

Today is the last day that a Black trans man fears occupying physical space because he can’t find his binder or is without it, and he fears that, because he fears being misgendered, because he fears brutality. It is the last day.

Today is the last day that Black nonbinary people feel forced to fake themselves into a binary that doesn’t exist.

Today is the last day that cis people use trans people as an encyclopedia when Google is right there.

Today is the last day. And today, I demand that you commit that there will be no more hashtags. There will be no more elevated rates of incarceration, housing insecurity and unemployment for Black trans people.

Today I demand that the state be held accountable for our murders.

Today I demand that the state be held accountable for continuously ignoring us, abusing us, while profiting off of us in the shadows.

Today we bring that violence into the light and crush it beneath our feet.

To summarize I have one simple thing to say: transphobia ends today. And it doesn’t end because your nonprofit made a grant off of it. It doesn’t end because you put a trans flag on a credit card. It doesn’t even end because you said to your white family that trans lives matter. It doesn’t end because you fuck us and still misgender us to your friends. Transphobia ends today because if you ain’t with us, you are learning today what it means to be against us.


IANNE FIELDS STEWART is a black, queer, and transfeminine New York-based storyteller working at the intersection of theatre and activism. Their work and she are dedicated to interrupting the exclusivity of  luxury by making things like entertainment, nourishment, and self care accessible to the most marginalized in their community. In a world that is constantly traumatizing Black bodies she believes that Black queer and trans people should have the space and time to center collective emotional, physical, and sensual pleasure.

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